1959 International 460 Diesel Utility

In July of 1958, the fortunes of International Harvester changed forever. Starting on July 18, the New World of Power show at the IH Testing Farm in Hinsdale, Illinois, a whole new line of tractors debuted. It was a huge event attended by representatives of the 12,000 North American IH dealers and dealers from at least 25 other countries. While literally hundreds of pieces of equipment were displayed, the stars were the new 460 and 560 models which featured International’s new line of six cylinder engines.

Ron Wannemacher’s ‘59 460 is well used but still hale and hearty. We saw it at the Kalida, Ohio, Pioneer Days tractor exhibit a few years back. Built very late in December of 1959, it’s a Diesel Utility that was ordered with a 3-point hitch, TA and PTO.

In the diesel realm, there were two new sixes, the D236 and the D282, both built on the same architecture. The development of these engines had started in 1956 and they were based upon the successful Black Diamond OHV gassers that had debuted after WWII. The development was designed to be spread to all divisions of IH, so within this six-cylinder diesel family, there were basically four engines divided into two stroke categories, a short 3.69-inch stroke and a long 4.39-inch. From there, the tractor and many industrial engines were sleeved to a 3.69 inch bore. Some industrial/agricultural and the motor truck diesels were parent bore (unsleeved) at 3.81-inches.

Is it a 360 or a 460?

The original concept was to debut the new six-cylinder tractors as the 360 and 460 to replace the 350 and 450 models, the latest iterations of the four-cylinder lines. Apparently, that wasn’t whiz-bang enough, so they became the 460 and 560. The 460 came in several models, the Utility (gas or diesel) which featured a set back front axle with an adjustable track, the Industrial (yellow paint, heavy-duty fixed tread front axle), Farmall (rowcrop with narrow or set-forward adjustable front axle, 3-point and other row crop features), Orchard (protective fenders only), Grove (protective fenders, cowling and low seating position), Hi-Clearance (4.3 inches of extra clearance) and a Wheatland (platform seating with full fenders and a set back axle).

The working end shows the 3-point with a fast hitch drawbar installed. This is typical when a 3-point is installed. Without a 3-point, a fixed drawbar was used.

Engine choices included the aforementioned D236 diesel, the C221 gasoline and a LPG fueled, high compression C221. The base gearbox was a 5-speed unit and optional (or included with the Farmall) was the Torque Amplifier (TA), which allowed the operator to split the gears without using the clutch. Standard equipment varied a lot according to the model, but the Farmall typically had a 3-point hitch, rear PTO and swinging drawbar. The Utility versions typically did not have the 3-point as standard but many are found with them.

Over the years, time and additions have altered the operator’s station a little but by the standards of 1959, it was an adequate place to work.

Given it’s primary role as a utility model, a good number of attachments were available for the 460. These include the 2000 and 2001 loader (single or double acting cylinders) and the 65, 95 or 1250 backhoes. There were belly mowers and many other smaller attachments available as well from International’s vast array of implements. The 560 was of a size that made it adaptable to a lot of uses, both agricultural and commercial.

Tough Times

If you are a long-time reader of Tractor Talk you may remember our discussions about the issues with the final drives on the 460 and 560. The short version is that knowing arch-nemesis John Deere was coming out with a line of new six-cylinder tractors by 1960-ish, IH execs want to beat them to the draw and opted to cut corners, shorten the development time and graft the new, more powerful six-cylinder engines onto the previous generation final drives that were designed for four-cylinders. Engineering warned them but was overruled. Ironically, IH was well on the way to having new final drives developed and had they waited another year or so, they might have been available. It’s a great example of how short-sighted decisions can come back to take big chucks out of the corporate butt.

The D236 was part of a large family of gas and diesel six cylinders that began development in 1956, the architecture based on the famous IH Black Diamond truck engine. It’s a four main engine with a forged crankshaft, dry sleeves and indirect injection. Though the larger diesel of this series, the D282, found a home in the truck lines as the parent bore D301, the D236 or it’s parent bore counterpart, the D252, did not see use in the truck realm. They were relatively low-stress engines and, in tractors, operated at a maximum of only 1800 rpm. The D301 was spun up to 3000 rpm and delivered 112.5 horses. A road version of the D252 was projected to be in the 80-90 horsepower range. They were not durable engines when pushed past their rated limits. They were a little short of head bolts for that, but within the realm of “normal service” they could be considered adequate powerplants with reasonable maintenance. Injection came from the ubiquitous Roosa-Master pump with injectors that popped at 1,600 psi.

The new tractors were a hot commodity and they sold rapidly. As rapidly as they sold, so did reports about final drive failures. IH was slow to react and by the time they did, it had become a full-blown screaming emergency.  By the time they figured out how to fix the problem, both in production and out in the field, there were thousands of tractors out there with problems and thousands more waiting for them to happen. IH recalled and replaced some tractors, repaired others at the dealer under warranty and updated all the unsold stock. Deere took great glee in presenting pictures of the hastily set up regional repair facilities used to update the 460, 560 and 660 final drives. Though the tractors were adequate after the repairs, the reputational hit turned away many customers and gave Deere a sales edge that they maintained for the rest of International Harvester’s existence.

There were a number of versions of this badge. In addition to the “International” badge on the hood side, the Utility badge just said “Utility” if it had a gas or LP engine, and the diesel said “Diesel Utility.” The Farmalls, had a “Farmall” badge on the hood sides and either “Diesel” or nothing else if it was the standard gas C263. The Wheatland models had “International” on the hood sides with “Wheatland” on the badge.

The Last Words

The 460 was on sale from 1958 into 1963. Sales numbers were decent considering, 11,410 Utility/Industrials of all types and 32,527 Farmalls from the start of production, June 16, 1958, to the end on May 3, 1963. Ignoring the final drive issues, which were largely solved by the end of 1960, the 460 Series were good tractors. They were at the top tier of the power scale in the era for a Utility-sized tractor and they had a plethora of options to fine tune them to an operation. Because them had less power than the 560 and used virtually the same final drive, they were a little less problematic in that area.

The 460 was replaced by the 606, which started production in December of 1961 and was considered to be the first of the legendary 06 line, the bulk of which debuted for 1963. In reality the 606 was little more than a slightly enhanced 460. The 606 line was only offered as a Utility or Industrial unit. The 460 Farmall model did not get a direct replacement, though the 504 (same production start as the 606 but with a big four) and the 706 Farmalls could be considered spiritual replacement above and below the same horsepower level.


1959 460 Diesel Utility

Engine: 6-cylinder IDI diesel, IH D236
Displacement: 236 ci
Bore & Stroke: 3.69 x 3.69 in.
*Rated Belt Power: 52.43 @ 1800 rpm
*Rated Drawbar Power: 48.16 @ 1800 rpm
Flywheel Power: 61 @ 1800 rpm
Flywheel Torque: 180 lbs-ft @1300 rpm
Compression Ratio: 17.6:1
Transmission: 5-speed with TA (5×2)
Weight: 5255 lbs
Wheelbase: 78.7 in.
Fuel Capacity: 23 gal.
Tires:  front – 6.00-16
Rear – 14.9-28 reverse

*Fuel Consumption: 3.642 GPH @ full power
*Drawbar Pull: 6,437 lbs. and max ballast
*Top Speed: 16.5 mph
*As Rated by Nebraska Tractor Test 673respectively


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